In his debut business book, Self argues that the future will belong to companies that focus on customer success, not simply product sales.
There is a revolution under way in the business world, says customer research expert Self. A growing number of companies realize that the customer, not goods or services, is the reason for their existence. By placing customers at the center of every activity, these organizations achieve high levels of satisfaction and loyalty. Self says it is no coincidence these organizations are also known for innovation. Their customer service is “abundant,” aimed at trying to discover, design and deliver ideas that add value to customers’ lives. Self compares these “3D companies” with the outdated command-and-control model still pervasive today. These “1D companies” are self-limiting because they operate from a philosophy of scarcity; their profitability and procedures must be guarded from competitors and customers alike. “Customers don’t accept this approach anymore, though,” Self writes. “They see it as deficient—as a system that no longer delivers trust to customers in the way it once did.” Self uses actual companies to support his theory, ranging from Amazon.com to the award-winning National Museum of Play. He carefully lays out a holistic system that addresses corporate culture, strategy, branding and employee empowerment, and he isn’t afraid to point out shortcomings in Six Sigma and other now-standard business theories. Self’s methodology may seem like just another cure-all, but astute readers will recognize bits from noted thinkers woven into the book’s DNA, including ideas from Peter Drucker and Edward de Bono. Organizations that spend significant amounts of time tracking rivals may be reluctant to shift so much attention to the customer, but Self insists that in a marketplace where products are easily copied and consumers are becoming more educated, the best way to stay competitive is to make better outcomes for the customer. The spirit of the book challenges the status quo—a key step in preventing obsolescence.
A paradigm-busting plan for success built on an oft-forgotten idea: People are more important than widgets.